Moving tribute to Walter Lewin’s impact

For Walter Lewin’s recent visit to BITS Pilani University in India, the community there produced this moving video sharing the impact his OCW videos have had:

The following article on the ITS Pilani University site describes the visit:

Lecture by Prof. Walter Lewin

12 March 2014

Prof. Walter H. G. Lewin, renowned  Dutch Astrophysicist and Professor Emeritus of Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology,  explained ‘Birth and Death of stars’ at BITS Pilani, K K Birla Goa Campus auditorium on 14th March, 2014 as a part of BITS Pilani University’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations.

Dr. Gaurav Dar, Professor and Head, Department of Physics introduced Prof. Lewin, calling him ‘one of the most famous professors in the world.’ Lewin is popular for his video lecture series on Physics and massive online courses taught on MIT OCW (Open Course Ware). In 2012, Princeton Review named him among ‘The Best 300 Professors in the US.’

A member of Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow at American Physical Society, Prof. Walter Lewin started the lecture by explaining the birth of stars by the gravitational collapse of a gaseous nebula of material composed primarily of hydrogen and helium. He discussed the nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium in the stars’ core, which releases massive amounts of energy. Then he enlightened the audience on the death of stars where the core becomes a stellar remnant: a white dwarf, a neutron star or a black hole depending on the star’s mass;  the Sun, being fairly light in mass, will turn into a white dwarf in around 5 billion years.

Recipient of various awards including the NASA Award for Exceptional Scientific Achievement (1978) and  NASA Group Achievement Award for the Discovery of the Bursting Pulsar (1997), Prof. Lewin is renowned for his propensity for teaching concepts of Physics using practical examples in a dynamic style. After he explained the Doppler Shift using two lucid examples  that of a tuning fork and a rotating frequency emitter, it was apparent as to why his video lecture series is a sensation on the internet. He explained, “Doppler Shift of spectral lines in binary systems played a key role in the discovery of stellar mass black holes.”

After explaining about the X-ray binaries, a class of binary stars which produce X-rays when matter falls from donor star to accretor star (a white dwarfneutron star, or black hole), Prof. Lewin concluded the lecture by commenting, “For stars, there is really life after death, provided they find the right companion and it is my wish that all of you during life-not after death-find the right companion, radiate and be happy.” He also offered to sign souvenirs for anyone interested in meeting him after the lecture. The auditorium was packed to capacity by students from various colleges of Goa.

Check out professor Lewin’s videos for yourself:

1 thought on “Moving tribute to Walter Lewin’s impact

  1. Pingback: Walter Lewin’s Reddit “Ask Me Anything” | Open Matters

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